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The MTA Released Alternative Travel Plans for L Train Shutdown and They’re Awful

New Yorkers are fearing the impending April 2019 shutdown of the Manhattan to Brooklyn L subway line. The contract for Hurricane Sandy repairs spanning the train tracks between 8th Avenue and Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, was awarded two years ago and plan to last at least 15 months, ending by August 2020.

The issue has been a hot topic among local politicians who are generally pushing for alternative travel routes including other subway lines, a new inter-borough bus line, and expansion of select bus services.

The L train services over 400,000 commuters daily with at least 250,000 depending the line to travel between the connecting boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

So what’s New York state going to do about suddenly losing this essential subway line? Well, the MTA released a 38-page PowerPoint presentation explaining their plans and they’re not pretty: http://web.mta.info/sandy/pdf/Canarsie-6-08-17_website.pdf

train lines

  • 75% – 85% of commuters will be shunted to other subway lines. The M and J lines connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn will bear the brunt the burden, with the G suffering on its connections going up to Queens.
  • The MTA admits 75% is the ideal target to avoid overcrowding. They have not yet released specific plans on how frequently trains will be running to accommodate all the new riders.
  • Only between 5% – 15% of riders are estimated to use a proposed inter-borough shuttle bus service.  This is where plans get messy. THERE IS NO DIRECT SHUTTLEBUS ROUTE PLANNED IN BETWEEN 8TH AVENUE AND BEDFORD AVE.

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  • As you can see, the shuttle buses will run from Grand St. L stop to no further than Prince St./Broadway.  This means if you want to get from Bedford Avenue to 8th Avenue you will have to transfer 3 times in between shuttle buses, subways, and select bus service.
  • The rest of anticipated ridership will consist of ferries, bicycles, and taxis.  The MTA has not yet released plans for increases in ferry ridership.

The Democratic Primaries this year fall on September 12, 2017.  When you vote please pay close attention to the travel agendas of your city council candidates.  Hopefully, local politicians can address this mess of a plan and fight to keep New York City’s subways running effectively and efficiently.

Click here to register to vote.

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Swagbucks vs. Ibotta: Two Cash-back Shopping Programs for Beer Money

August 16, 2016 3 comments

I first heard the term “beer money” on https://www.reddit.com/r/beermoney/ .

/r/beermoney is a community for people to discuss mostly online money-making opportunities (some exceptions are allowed). You shouldn’t expect to make a living, but it’s possible to make extra cash on the side for your habits/needs.”

As a cash-strapped individual, I was on the lookout for some non-scam extra ways to make some money. After reviewing all the options including: Swagbucks, Amazon Mechanical Turks, and InstaGC, I decided on the seemingly most popular one, Swagbucks.

Swagbucks

 

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I have been using Swagbucks for a couple years now and have earned a couple hundred dollars. These were deposited into my PayPal account at $25 intervals with my earnings averaging about $20 a month when I consistently used the service. It has been a serious grind however; making a couple extra dollars is far easier to do with a regular job than with Swagbucks.

Swagbucks’ model revolves around users doing various online tasks and also getting points for online purchases. Each task or purchase is worth a certain amount of points or “Swagbucks” (SB). You can then redeem your SB for Paypal deposits or gift cards.

The main task I do on the site is taking surveys. Surveys are similar to an online focus group. You fill out profile information about yourself—such as age, gender, and income, and Swagbucks will match you to appropriate surveys, usually about products or services that you use frequently. The number of SB you get will vary depending on the survey. Longer surveys are normally worth more. Surveys can be tedious at times (I often find myself answering 50 variations of the same exact question.), but some of them will genuinely match your interests and you receive the credit automatically at the end of the survey.

The other way to earn SB is through cash-back on online purchases. They offer a small % back on many popular retailers such as Macy’s, Amazon, Old Navy, and Sephora. All you have to do is click on the website through the Swagbucks website and make the purchase through there. There is about a month waiting period for the SB to credit, probably to make sure you don’t return the purchase, and they also have help tickets available for people who have trouble getting credit for their purchase.

Sometimes Swagbucks also offers a fixed amount of SB for certain kinds of purchases. I have previously seen them offer several hundred SB for purchases for popular products from brands such as Proactiv, Dollar Shave Club, and Audible.

If I’m short a few points for the minimum payout of SB, I’ll either watch videos (They offer small amounts of SB for watching a set of videos.) or do an “offer” where I give my e-mail to a mailing list in exchange for a small amount of SB. The e-mail has to match the e-mail on your Swagbucks account so I use my secondary spam account for my Swagbucksing. These are my least favorite Swagbucks activities because they pay so low, and I only do them if I really need them.

I’ve also used Swagbucks’ main competitor, InstaGC. They are very similar to Swagbucks to the point where I’ve even seen the same surveys on each site. InstaGC’s main benefit is their gift card payout is much lower than Swagbucks’ minimum payout. You can get 100 points for $1 on Amazon on InstaGC as opposed to 2500 SB for a $25 Amazon on Swagbucks. They do offer PayPal, but you must redeem $50+ in other cash rewards or gift cards in order to gain PayPal access. I haven’t earned this much yet.

Another thing about InstaGC is I can’t use my VPN with it—I get an error message and the site is blocked. This is only a mild annoyance however. I mostly don’t use InstaGC anymore because of its redundancies with Swagbucks.

Ibotta

 

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Ibotta is an app you use with your smartphone. I first heard about Ibotta through a friend. She told me it was a cash-back program and eagerly sent me a referral link via text. The text said I could get $10 for joining.

I thought a straight cash-back program was too good to be true so I looked at the stipulations. Sure enough, there were a few catches with Ibotta.

The first thing I noticed is there was a $20 minimum payout for PayPal. (They also offer gift cards, but I’ll probably focus on the money.) Then I looked at what kinds of products they offered cash-back on. They did have popular retailers such as CVS, Duane Reade, and Walmart, but they only offered the cash-back on certain items. You also have to watch an ad or do a short task to unlock the items. There were a couple hundred items advertised at my local pharmacies.

I also didn’t just get $10 free for joining. I had to make my first purchase within 10 days of signing up. So, wanting my $10, I trekked over to my local Rite Aid and looked for one of the items on the list—a SinfulColors brand nail polish that credits for 25 cents. Not a big credit, but I use that brand of nail polish anyway. I look for it everywhere; apparently they don’t carry it. I go to the other Rite Aid, which is just up the street. They have a bigger selection of nail polish. I could have sworn I saw SinfulColors there before but they don’t have it anymore either.

I decide to buy a Protein Powerbar that credits for $1 and sells for $2.75. It’s not until I buy the Powerbar and try to credit it that it says it actually requires you buy two Powerbars. I also just can’t buy another because they both need to be on the same receipt. I eat the Powerbar and decide it’s not worth buying more of them.

I then go to the households aisle and try to find Rubbermaid Freshworks Produce Saver tupperwear which credits for $2. They don’t carry this at RiteAid either. I get frustrated, think maybe it’s just this store, and head to CVS instead.

I look for the tupperwear at CVS but they don’t carry it there. I then look for Seventh Generation brand laundry detergent and dish soap. They don’t have either one of them. I find a Flintstones Gummy Vitamin bottle that credits for $1, but only the large-size bottle credits, it costs $17, and I don’t want to spend that much. I eventually get a $7 bottle of ZzzQuil that credits $1. I purchase it, scan my barcode and receipt with my phone, and the dollar credits to my account in an hour. I also finally get my $10 joining bonus.

I looked at the other ways to make money on Ibotta. The clothing stores had a lot of offers around $5 on a $50 purchase. So it’s really not that much more than what Swagbucks offers or common credit card cash-back offers.

I haven’t hit my minimum amount to cash out yet, and considering the limitations of the app, it may take a few more weeks before I get my beer money. (I don’t live near any major grocery stores, so I’m limited to the pharmacy options.) I just hope they don’t raise the minimum while I’m making progress. I Googled and apparently the minimum payout used to to be $5, so it appears they can arbitrarily change the program whenever they want.

My final advice on Ibotta: Use it on things you were going to buy anyway, but be careful you don’t end up buying things you don’t need.

If you would like to join Swagbucks use my referral link here: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/scandalousmuffin

If you would like to join Ibotta use my referral link here: https://ibotta.com/r/kgdorsl

Joyce Brown – Billie Bogs and NYC’s Forgotten Involuntary Confinement Program

Joyce Brown was a New York City resident and homeless woman who was involuntarily hospitalized in NYC in 1987.

On October 28, 1987, Ms. Brown was transported to Bellevue Hospital as the first patient under Project HELP, a city program spearheaded by Mayor Ed Koch, a program aimed at the hospitalization of the homeless. She had been living on the streets in Manhattan and often used the fake name “Billie Bogs” to avoid being found by her family.

On December 18, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Manhattan upheld her involuntary commitment.  However, the judge that wrote the dissenting argument claimed that there was not enough evidence to support the notion that she was a danger to herself.1

Dr. Francine Cournos, an assistant professor of psychiatry  Columbia University, stated that although she thought treatment would be helpful, it was not advised treatment be given against her will. On January 15, 1988, a judge ruled that Joyce Brown could be not involuntary medicated.2

The appeal to confine Joyce Brown was eventually successful, with help from lawyers from NYCLU, whom she had called herself for legal support. Acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Lippmann determined that she was competent enough to not be a danger to herself or others. She was released after nearly three months of involuntary commitment.3

She went on to seek gainful employment and many have written published articles about her civil rights case and involuntary medication and commitment.

1. Kirk Johnson. The New York Times. Court Backs Treatment of Woman Held Under Koch Homeless Plan. Published: December 19, 1987.

2. Josh Barbanel. The New York Times. Joyce Brown Obtains a Ban On Medicine. Published: January 16, 1988.

3. Jeanie Kasindorf. New York Magazine. The Real Story of Billie Bogs.Published: May 2, 1988.

Related reading:

Treatment Advocacy Center: Involuntary Hospitalization in the Modern Era: Is “Dangerousness” Ambiguous or Obsolete?

Meet My Cactus: Carlos Danger

August 4, 2013 2 comments

I bought a new cactus with my roomy. He has funny leaves. (Cactuses are mostly boys, right?) He is replacing Prometheus Maximus, the single, most boring cactus ever, who died tragically and unexpectedly after being carelessly sprayed by the bug exterminator.

I named the new cactus Carlos Danger.

He is an African Milk Tree Plant, according to Google, and according to my friend, also has poisonous sap.

Note to self: Do not ever ever lick Carlos Danger.

Background information:

Previous posts on this blog re Carlos Danger:

Happy Second Birthday to My Failed Anthony Weiner Tumblr!


My Failed “I am Anthony Weiner” Project. What I Learned about Social Movements.

I’ve actually met the Anthony Weiner press manager involved in the other mini-scandal. But I don’t want to link to articles about it because I’ve actually been caught on here talking about people I know “behind their back” before; you can go look it up yourself if you want. (She seemed like a pleasant person at the time.)

I also knew one of Weiner’s former key interns who has since quit the campaign in shame and heavy emotional resignation. That reminds me of something Weiner himself should do…

I think he’ll make it through the run-off, but not by much.

Louis CK Explains NYC Subway Frustration at the Comedy Cellar

Louis C.K. describes the worst part of the subway perfectly.

Hat-tip to Brokelyn for the Link:

Man, I miss his TV show. (The second one, of course, although Lucky Louie wasn’t actually all that terrible.)

Also…

Louis C.K. re-imagines classic jokes:

“I don’t know why the chicken crossed the road… Shouldn’t it be on a farm fucking other chickens?… There is no dialogue or conversation with a chicken; It just gets eaten and I take a shit.”

NYC Allegedly Mishandles 50 Cases of DNA Rape Evidence

Sorry to go to from funny to serious in one post. But, Jesus fuck, this is outrageous.

Via NY1:

City Council Members Demand More Transparency From Medical Examiner’s Office

On top of demanding answers about that particular case, City Council members were looking for more general accountability from the ME following revelations the office mishandled DNA evidence in over 50 rape cases.

This is on top of the picture scandal in the Bronx over a dead body hanging out in a health department truck with household trash bags.

Demand transparency from your state. Demand transparency from your health care professionals.

I’ve spent too much time working in healthcare to know that providers who make mistakes are often not above covering their own tracks.

Sigh.

Happy Second Birthday to My Failed Anthony Weiner Tumblr!

I got an e-mail from Tumblr today:

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I am Anthony Weiner turned 2 today!
We hope it was a great year, and we look forward to sharing many more!

I wrote about this a couple years ago, but just in case you missed it:

My Failed “I am Anthony Weiner” Project. What I Learned about Social Movements.

Basically, I tried to start a “I Am Bradley Manning” Tumblr, expect for Anthony Weiner and with crotch shots: http://iamanthonyweiner.tumblr.com/

I thought there was a chance it might blow up. There was another crotch pics for Weiner website that pretty much copied me.

Both websites turned out to be epic failures.

I was thinking about opening it up again since Weiner recently came back to life with a bid for mayor of New York City. But now I feel like it’s too late. I made the Tumblr before the drama in which he came out as a liar.

If you’re a couple years behind on the Weiner news, Wikipedia has your back:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Weiner_sexting_scandal

I don’t feel like Anthony Weiner has a huge shot right now anyway. He probably could have survived the dick pic scandal on pride alone if only he hadn’t freaked out and and then lied about being hacked. So RIP, “I am Anthony Weiner” Tumblr. You had potential, just like Anthony Weiner himself.

Full disclosure:

I am a registered NYC voter now. (I was an NJ resident before. But now am a Brooklynite.) I am actually voting for Christine Quinn, but for reasons other than dick pics.